Valerie Mann at WSG Ann Arbor

I went to the opening of Valerie Mann's new show FORTUNES and Other Visual Responses at WSG Gallery last night. The work is fascinating and engaging. Walking into the gallery one literally walks in the midst of an installation of white antique baby clothes, each outfit embroidered with a phrase like "you will trust your instincts". The choice of phrase is resonant, taking one back to childhood hopes, dreams and fears. As a mother of teens these pieces struck at my core hopes and fears for my children. Despite the charm of the embroidered clothing this is not a sweet or sentimental installation. There is something profound about the ghosts of the human figure hanging in mid-air, reminding us of memories and hopes - the fortunes referenced in the title of the exhibition. The fortunes are not all benign and many of them reference the sort of social fears that are such a painful part of childhood and adolescence. In her artist's statement Mann says "I am interested in how we as parents and adults in society teach the next generations to cope. What do we teach them by our actions or inaction? Every one of these fortunes is about someone I know - or myself. Many times, several of the fortunes apply to one person. How is it that someone can be 'orphaned at a young age', 'cherished by many people' and 'always share {their} wisdom at the right time'?" I thought it was a terrific and thought provoking installation. There are other pieces in the show which are also strong and an interesting use of various media but the infant gowns are the pieces that I expect to stay with me for a long time.

exhibition information
WSG Gallery
306 S. Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

May 12 - June 21, 2009

Artist Gallery Talk:

Sunday, May 31, 2 pm


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